Thursday, March 19, 2009

Peace amid Sorrow

As I reflect on peaceful and sorrowful times in my life, I have discovered that at times I was able to feel both emotions simultaneously. When this occurred, sometimes I had the support of a loving friend, felt the comfort of the Spirit, or experienced happiness through service, meditation, reading scriptures or good books, listening to uplifting music, mindfulness, or the beauties of nature. Other times I just hang on to my faith in Christ with white knuckles, pleading for strength to endure or for the trial to pass.

As I reflect upon the Savior's life, I remember that Jehovah himself retreated to the mountains--sometimes alone and sometimes with His disciples-- when throngs of people pursued Him. I wonder if we take the time to find a quiet place to renew ourselves or if we feel driven to constantly perform or produce. Perhaps we continually draw from our well of service, compassion, or goodness without refilling it with sufficient living water of prayer, meditation, and scripture study.

At times I do not trust in God completely, and peace evades me. Paul reminds us that even amid trials and hardships, we can find peace when we trust in God. "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty," he wrote. "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4: 11:13).

Just before the Savior left his disciples to suffer in Gethsemane and on the cross, he challenged them to find joy amid afflictions. "In this world you shall have tribulation," he said, "but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world" (see John 16:33). He comforted his friends when we could have easily felt comfortless. Perhaps at times we can do the same.

Like many, I struggle to find peace amid tribulation. As we view a world filled with violence, natural and economic disasters, suffering, inhumanity, and countless other tribulations, we can easily be overcome with fear and worry. And sometimes life can be so unfair. Even God Himself withdrew when Christ anguished on the cross, leaving His Son to cry, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me."

Sometimes we may feel forsaken by God. Our fervant prayers are not answered in ways that we feel best. Friends may forsake us. Family members may ignore us or break our hearts. Clinical depression may darken our days. S. Michael Wilcox said that the Savior did not immediately rescue his disciples who cried out for his help while they faced a stormy night at Galilee. "Carest thou not that we perish," they cried. But it wasn't until the fourth watch, about 3 A.M., that the Savior stilled the storm. Perhaps he wanted his apostles to learn that faith requires patience and perserverance. Perhaps he was teaching that life's problems are not always quickly solved.

So, trusting in God when trust is not easy or convenient may be harder than we would wish. We may need to step out on the waters of fear, our eyes fixed on the Savior, believing that He will carry us along. We may need to hang on through the storms of life until the fourth watch. The scriptures testify that we can do all things--even suffer our Gethsemane trials--when we trust in God who has engraved us on the palms of His hands and who loves us infinitely. "But let all those that put their trust in [God] rejoice," David writes. "Let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee" (Psalm 5:11).
© Carol Brown

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